Last year I developed a course titled “Consumer Health Informatics & Web 2.0 in Healthcare”. It was an excellent learning experience for me and hopefully beneficial for the students as well. The course was offered last semester in our College of Osteopathic Medicine – Biomedical Informatics Program. I plan to offer a similar course next semester in our College of Pharmacy tailored for those students and capitalizing on the lessons learned from the previous version.
While my course was a hybrid of consumer health informatics (CHI) and Web 2.0, the very first Web 2.0 and Medicine course was created by Bertalan Mesko, MD. Dr. Mesko (perhaps better known as @Berci) pioneered it when he was still a medical student. Berci was quite helpful in the early stages of the conception of my course and even went on to contribute a brief guest lecture on virtual worlds. Additional resources have since appeared in the literature detailing experiences teaching Web 2.0 in other disciplines.
My course covered basic CHI terminology and subjects like health information seeking behaviors and the evolution of participatory medicine as well as related topics like open access and digital health literacy. Additionally, it touched on some ‘classic’ informatics tools and technologies like telemedicine, mHealth, and electronic/personal health records. The course also featured a second guest lecture by Joan Dzenowagis, PhD, who spoke about Internet safety, governance issues, and the dotHealth initiative.
One of the main things I wanted to accomplish with the course was to have the students use the actual Web 2.0 tools and technologies that we discussed in practical ways. To that end, they completed a series of mini-projects including: editing health-related Wikipedia entries, creating Twitter accounts to follow thought leaders in their subspecialties, and creating RSS reader accounts to help manage their flow of information.
Overall, the course was well-received and I was relatively happy with its maiden voyage. My plan now is to continue modifying, customizing, and retooling the course based on the needs of pharmacy students and the previous students’ feedback and then submitting to the College of Pharmacy curriculum committee in the coming months. In the interim, I welcome your comments and questions.